Russian forces train with combat-ready S-300 missiles in Baltic

MOSCOW, June 13 Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:52am EDT

MOSCOW, June 13 (Reuters) - Russian military forces were being trained on Friday to set surface-to-air missiles in ready-to-fire positions at exercises in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, the defence ministry said, as part of its response to NATO drills in the region.

Russia began military exercises in Kaliningrad this week after NATO allies launched drills in parts of eastern Europe following Moscow's annexation of Crimea and a pro-Russian separatist revolt in Ukraine's east.

NATO fighters that guard the Baltic states - Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia - scrambled four times on Thursday to identify Russian military planes flying close to Latvia's airspace, the Latvian army said.

The S-300 advanced missiles used in Friday's exercises have a 125-mile (200-km) range and Russia has stoked tensions with the West by trying to sell the system to Middle Eastern countries, including Syria. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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